According to research by Interaction Associates on Building Trust over five years (2009-2013), approximately 80 percent of employees surveyed report they cannot do an effective job, if they do not trust their leaders. This makes trust an essential component of success in today’s business world.
LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner fosters an organisation built on transparency. He even takes the time to hold bi-weekly meetings, during which he updates employees on company matters and listens to their suggestions.
Berlin-based Transparency International’s did a survey of ‘Transparency in Corporate Reporting’ in 2013, where companies from India did best, with Tata Communications Ltd. leading the list with a score of 7.1. Tata Global Beverages Ltd. and Tata Steel Ltd. were placed at second and third. Lenovo Group Ltd. was the highest ranking Chinese company at 19.
If a workplace is surveyed, besides the need for job security and career advancement opportunities; employees want to be part of a workplace culture that, places emphasis on delivering the truth. They want their leaders to be proactive in sharing, where the company is headed and forthright about its future.
In other words, they just want transparency so they can plan, plus protect themselves. Being transparent is a powerful thing and the reason most leaders are not transparent is because they believe, they will be viewed as less authoritative; that the credentials they worked so hard to attain will lose their power and leverage. Most leaders have this problem, they are not aware of the reality that exists around them. People want to relate to its leaders.
We are all living in a time when people want and expect their leaders to be more human, less perfect and at times a bit vulnerable irrespective of hierarchy. This need for transparency in society is at an all-time high. For leaders at workplace, this means it’s time to be transparent by communicating less over email and third-party communication, and become more personally engaged with their employees via face-to-face and/or video interaction with greater frequency.
“This will not only build trust, but also set-forth a precedent that will transcend through team, and establish a new type of loyalty and attitude that will ripple throughout the organization,” in a report by Forbes. Trust is a two-way street and the best way to build trust is to give trust. As a person’s power increases, their perceived trustworthiness goes down.
As someone moves up in the organization, they are further removed from employees and have less of a direct connection with them, unlike their direct manager. Employees also need clarity on what is expected from them. While providing them autonomy, it is also important to give them clear instructions and explain how their performance will be measured.
Cultivate trust from the bottom up or delegate tasks and give employees as much autonomy as possible. The challenge with transparency is to identify the behaviours that clearly define the concept. Transparency at work requires great technology and a company culture, centred on openness.
See: How Can HR Help Build Trust between Employees and Freelancers?
For Millennials and members of Gen Z generation, transparency and the ease of sharing knowledge and data is crucial to building trust in the workplace. It’s important to remember that trust is in the eyes of the beholder.
Ways to Build More Trust in an Organization
Be Transparent: Buffer is a great example of a company that is redefining what it means to be transparent. They share everything like their revenue numbers, bank balance, employee salaries, and every email in the company is transparent.
Communicate a lot: One of the best ways to build trust is to communicate frequently and clearly, so that everyone understands things the same way. “If you want people to make smart decisions, they need context and all available information,” was stated by former Square COO, Keith Rabois in First Round Review.
Tell It Straight: Studies indicate the most important quality people want in a leader is integrity. Business leaders who tell it straight, are open and honest even about bad news, develop the trust essential for strong, long-term relationship both inside and outside the company.
Be accessible: As a leader, particularly during tumultuous times, it’s important to be out in front of the organization sharing plans for the future.
Know where to draw the line: Transparency isn’t about knowing others business but rather making sure everyone has the information they need to do their jobs effectively. Of course it is important to keep performance reviews, employee salaries, and other sensitive matters private.
Walk the Talk: A leader has to be a walking example of the vision and values of the organization. The key to leadership is being able to develop a trusting relationship with others. Without trust, it is impossible for an organization to function effectively.
Socialise with co-workers: Team events as simple as going to lunch together, can help break down barriers.
Hire the right talent: It all starts with employees, so building talent acquisition process strategies to attract, engage and retain employees, who display the attributes of transparency in everything they do. Transparency and trust are those subtle things that can make a dramatic impact on business. When companies are open with employees, shareholders, and the general public, those businesses are able to build trust while also holding themselves accountable.
Businesses of all sizes and shapes can use these same principles to improve their own internal processes, which will also impact both employee morale and customer satisfaction. In order for a business to be transparent, its’ people need to be transparent.
Trust is earned, and as a leader, one needs to prove to employees before trust is established. Trust must be perceived as precious, highly valued, and a treasured organizational trait. And transparent leadership is the key to foster a culture of trust between leaders and their employees. Employees who are kept in the loop and understand their role in the overarching purpose and goals of the company are more likely to put their trust in their employer.
Author credit: Dr Ritika Srivastava is a freelance content writer and an Organisational Psychologist. She is also trained in CBT and REBT with proven years of experience in rendering counseling. She also owns an online psychological counseling website: www.positiveself.in
Also read: How Can Business Leaders Maintain Trust Across the Analytics Lifecycle?
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